Update on Eastern Market Metro Park Redesign – Controversy over Traffic Plan
By Larry Janezich
Last Thursday night the Department of General Services (DGS) updated the community on the development of Eastern Market Metro Park. The format of the meeting included a brief overview of the status of the project, after which attendees broke up into three separate discussion groups: traffic, construction, and materials and finishes.
It was apparent from the crowd at the traffic discussion group that the most controversial aspect of the plan is the proposal to reverse the flow of traffic on D Street on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue and closing the so-called “slip Lane” in front of Trader Joe’s which allows west bound traffic on D Street to merge onto Pennsylvania Avenue after crossing 8th Street. The plan – following a concept developed years ago by architect Amy Weinstein – was incorporated into the current design by DGS. Residents of Southeast Capitol Hill say this will increase result in significant backups of southbound traffic on 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th streets for those seeking access to Pennsylvania Avenue. The traffic plan is still awaiting final approval.
Also of considerable interest to the community was the type of playground equipment for the playground. That decision will be made by the DGS design team – perhaps as early as mid-January – after soliciting input from the community on line or by email. The options regarding components of the playground installation will be on line at the website (link below), but as of this writing are not currently available.
Regarding construction, the permitting process is in progress and final approval of the plan is expected within the next 45 days. There have been three significant changes to the plan over the past several months: shade structures have been added to the playground, the playground on parcel one has been shifted to the south to avoid damage to the critical root zones of trees bordering D Street on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue, and an entertainment/performance pavilion has been added to parcel 4 near the Metro entrance.
The construction time line has slipped a little on phase 1 of the two-phase process. Phase 1 (playground and preliminary work around the Metro entrance on Parcel 4) will start in the early spring of 2020 and end by the fall of 2020. Phase 2 – parcels 2, 3, 4, 5 &6 – will launch in October of 2020, with completion forecast for April of 2021.
Upon completion, DGS will assume day-to-day maintenance of the redesigned plaza and the Department of Transportation will assume maintenance of everything in the public right-of-way. The Capitol Hill Bid will continue to maintain the park with respect to trash and litter.
Additional information, as well as the power point presentation from Thursday night’s community meeting are here: https://dgs.dc.gov/page/eastern-market-metro-park-project